League leaders Barcelona will look to maintain their stronghold at the summit of the La Liga with a victory against Malaga at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have wasted no time in establishing themselves at the top of the table and going into this weekend’s matches, the Catalan giants have a 4 point lead at the top of the table with their nearest rivals being a resurgent Valencia side.
Malaga on the other hand, can boast of no such achievements. Currently, they are at the very bottom of the table, with a negative 14 goal difference and only a single point to their name. That one point came courtesy of a thrilling, hard fought draw against Athletic Bilbao.
Jordi Alba, Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha will not be a part of tonight’s game as they are still recovering from injuries while Arda Turan, Thomas Vermaelen and Aleix Vidal weren’t selected. Given the state of the opposition, Ernesto Valverde might even consider resting some of his big players.
Lucas Digne will mostly retain his place in the starting XI, as will Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique. Nelson Semedo will likely come back into the starting XI after sitting out for Sergi Roberto in their midweek tie against Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League.
Paulinho, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta are all expected to retain their places in the starting XI, but Ivan Rakitic and Andre Gomes may be afforded a start in this tie. Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi are almost sure to start upfront, as is Gerard Deulofeu, whose match was cut short in midweek.
Probable Starting XI(4-3-3): Marc Andre Ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne; Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Paulinho; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Deulofeu
Federico Ricca, Diego Gonzalez, Zdravko Kuzmanović and Cenk Gonen will miss this match as they are all out injured, while Recio will be suspended for this tie. Despite their long list of injuries, Michel isn’t expected to change his side’s formation and will likely continue with a 4-2-3-1.
The starting XI isn’t expected to be too different from the one that lost to CD Leganes last week. Emanuel Cecchini will likely come in for the suspended Recio, while Adrian Gonzalez and Borja Baston are expected to come in for Juanpi Anor and Adalberto Penaranda.
It remains to be seen how Malaga cope without a number of first team players. The midfield duo of Rolon and Cecchini are not Michel’s first choice, and they will have to play the game of their lives if they are to try and restrict the likes of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic.
Probable Starting XI(4-2-3-1): Roberto; Roberto Rosales, Luis Hernandez, Paul Baysse, Juankar; Emanuel Cecchini, Esteban Rolon; Alex Mula, Adrian Gonzalez, Diego Rolan; Borja Baston
- Barcelona have won their last 16 games at home in the La Liga, the longest run by any side in the top flight.
- Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has lost only 1 out of the 14 times he has come up against Malaga in his managerial career.
- Malaga have failed to score in 7 of their last 9 La Liga matches.
- Barcelona are undefeated in 15 of their last 16 matches against Malaga across all competitions.
- Malaga have only won 1 match in the La Liga this entire season.
Barcelona 5-0 Malaga
The Blaugrana have been in unbelievable form this season, scoring an insane 24 goals and conceding only 3 in 8 Liga matches this season. Their draw against Atletico Madrid was the first time they that they failed to get all 3 points in the league this term.
They are yet to be defeated and it is highly unlikely that their undefeated streak is going to end at the hands of Malaga, who are placed last on the league table and only have a point to their name this season. Despite having a few injuries in the squad, that isn’t going to stop Barcelona from running riot at the Camp Nou tonight.